NCAA – College Station Regional – (1) Texas A&M vs (4) Notre Dame Preview

2:30 PM – (1) Texas A&M vs (4) Notre Dame

In terms of “best second round performance” (non-UCLA category), Texas A&M probably took top honors after a 7-2 starching of Arizona to avenge a 2-2 regular season draw with the Wildcats. The Aggies started scoring in the fifteenth minute at didn’t stop scoring until they had netted seven, which didn’t even take them an hour. The Aggies got braces from both Kelley Monogue and Allie Bailey, while Shea Groom sashayed her way to a goal and two assists as the A&M offense ran riot. I suspect the defensive performance may be viewed a little more critically, though the SEC side was already up 6-0 by the time Arizona had netted their first consolation goal. The defense is going to need to tighten up if A&M is to keep advancing. But if the offense plays like they did on Friday, there’s certainly going to be a large margin of error against just about anyone.

Notre Dame’s performance on the same pitch just a few hours earlier was hardly as convincing. The Irish looked to be lacking a distinct sharpness all over the pitch and surely would have crashed to defeat against a less limited opponent than a game Texas Longhorns side that still pushed the ACC side all the way to the end of the match. Team talisman Morgan Andrews played just forty-four minutes and didn’t put a shot on goal. The Irish also ended up getting much more production from its attackers off the bench. In particular, Karin Muya was a revelation in a super sub role, setting up the first goal before an ice cold finish with less than five minutes to play to win it. It’ll be interesting to see if Muya or Anna Gilbertson, who also scored off the bench, are moved into the starting lineup on Sunday. Regardless, Notre Dame’s going to need a much better performance in all phases to stand a chance to upset Texas A&M.

Key Matchups

AMCs – Shea Groom & Kelley Monogue (A&M) vs DMCs Cari Roccaro and Glory Williams (ND)

It’s one of the weekend’s tastiest matchups, as the main battle on Sunday between these two clubs figures to be in the heart of the pitch. The determined pair of Shea Groom and Kelley Monogue have crushed opponents beneath their heels this season, including in Friday’s overpowering display against Arizona. But they are going to have their hands full in getting past the duo of Roccaro and Williams. Roccaro is one of the nation’s top players who sometimes falls between the cracks due to her unflashy role. But Roccaro is very efficient at shielding the backline and has a very solid partner in Glory Williams. Organization and discipline will be key for Notre Dame’s defensive midfield partnership. If they get dragged apart, the club’s front four may end up doing more defending than they’d like, limiting their offensive potential.

LB – Sabrina Flores (ND) vs RF – Bianca Brinson (A&M)

Flores has been one of the most impressive rookie full-backs in the nation and more than did her part in the club’s win against Texas in getting up and down the line while contributing in both phases of play. But the freshman is going to have her hands full against Bianca Brinson, who has made a habit out of torturing left-backs all season long. Brinson is very effective field-stretcher for the Aggies and will work to combine well with Karlie Mueller down the right flank. There are many worries for Notre Dame defensively on the day, but keeping Brinson in check has to be near the top of the list.

The Notre Dame Frontline vs The Texas A&M Backline

There’s no telling who’s going to start for the Irish up after Friday’s patchy display against Texas. The goals for the Irish came from the bench with Anna Gilbertson and Karin Muya both netting, with the latter in particular putting in a fantastic shift from off the bench. With starter Karin Simonian playing just twenty-two minutes, you wonder if Notre Dame isn’t going to shuffle the deck a bit against the Aggies. A&M will be wanting to tighten things up a bit after conceding a couple of garbage time goals against Arizona. The SEC side has usually been solid defensively but does have the odd lapse that could prove costly in what may be a very tight encounter.

5 thoughts on “NCAA – College Station Regional – (1) Texas A&M vs (4) Notre Dame Preview

  1. Jonathon

    Ask any player or coach from A&M about Riccarro. She refused to shake anybodys hand at beginning of game and only said to them “enjoy your last game today”….. refused to shake hands afterwards and talked crap during entire game. Hopefully Coach Michelle French of Team USA is proud of her star pupil. If thats the future of USA soccer or NWSL we are screwed.

  2. Irish

    It’s Roccaro, not Riccarro. And, her reaction is understandable after A&M players told her and other ND players “This is your last game bitch.” Expected more class from the folks in Aggieland. We are Penn State fans now and we’re look forward to you getting screwed. Gig “em Lions!

  3. Dillon77

    Chris: Good, accurate preview, which proved to be prophetic. While Irish played well following giving up the first goal and had good midfield play, they still couldn’t capitalize on chances in offensive end. For whatever reason, Morgan Andrews is not clicking recently, either with new coach’s system and/or in general. Now that she’s having her first recruiting class, it will be interesting to see what Theresa Romagnolo does upfront. She’s in great shape with her d-line, goalie and middies including Glory Williams and Cari Roccaro.

    And Jonathon — speaking of Roccaro — , I’ve heard that A&M players instigated the initial trash talk and kept it going early and often, particularly following the early goal. Roccaro is a feisty, passionate Long Islander who is gong to give it everything she has. While it would’ve been preferable to see her — as co-captain — take some part of the high road and shake hands, I can understand an individual not wanting to congratulate a team that has is “gutter sniping” the whole time.
    So two things there:
    – Roccaro is on the USWNT teams and there’s a reason: she plays awfully well. In most instances, she comports herself very well. If not, consider the source.
    – So my advice to A&M…act like you’ve been there and show a little class.
    – Until then, go Penn State.

  4. Jonathon

    Finally I am home so I can respond to “typical soccer reactions”…. I didnt intend to turn an intelligent soccer thread from Chris into another ” middle school soccer mom reaction” thread but apparenyly it has. I have traveled up to College Station to watch soccer around 5 or 6 times in the last 4 years and frankly their atmosphere is better than all of the NWSL stuff currently and more than 90% of MLS stadiums. I was sitting next to a few folks that were apparently regional youth staff and they had come up from Houston area to watch players from both ND and A&M. Apparently Riccarro and some number 24 or 25 from ND and a few players from A&M….I was trying to point out from my comment that they were “shocked” at some apparent interactions with this ND midfielder before and after the game. We were in front row so I am not commenting on “what I heard”from others…. Its what we saw with our own eyes. I am not an expert on players here but they had nothing good to say about her attitude and demeaner…..”good player but” and obviously dont respect some coach in the US system….
    Apparently I commented out of turn for the folks that follow this stuff too closely….for that I apologize. As far as a mis-spelling of a name???? That is odd for anybody other than family …I presume since ND got around 450 folks at their opening round match at home that nobody in South Bend cares either how to spell it.
    Keep up the good work on this site as there are very few that break down matches as good as Chris does….

  5. Scott


    I’m guessing you don’t know and have never met Frenchy. I have. She is a very good coach, was a tough player, and looks for tough players. Nothing you wrote, to the extent that it is decipherable by those of us who only speak English, is likely to be of any relevance to Frenchy.


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